Julia Mazur was having a relaxing Saturday when she decided to chronicle her day on TikTok. By Sunday, she had become the most recent fodder for the internet’s ongoing culture war around societal expectations for women.
Mazur, 29, had posted a 92-second video to her 7,000 TikTok followers, laying out a day in her life as a single, childless woman, planning to take a crack at making the egg dish shakshuka and watch some TV. The next day, the hate started to pour in.
“All of a sudden on Sunday, I started receiving hateful comments, and then I caught wind that he had posted my TikTok,” Mazur said.
He, in this case, is Matt Walsh, a conservative media provocateur who posted Mazur’s video on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, to his more than 2.4 million followers, stating that she is “too stupid to realize how depressing this is.” Other conservative pundits piled on. Some on the left came to her defense. Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, argued with former Trump adviser Stephen Miller about it.
Mazur didn’t really want much to do with it.
“I deleted TikTok. I didn’t delete my profile, but I deleted the app from my phone because I started to feel very overwhelmed,” she said. “My mental health was not in a good place to be reading that, and I felt scared.”
Mazur had inadvertently found herself in an ongoing and fervent corner of the culture war that is increasingly playing out online, one where content that directs hate toward women — even against women with relatively small social media presences — has become profitable and popular inside and outside of conservative circles.
Walsh and many other right-leaning voices are part of a larger conservative movement that promotes what they consider to be traditional family values. That has included targeting medical gender transition procedures and openly criticizing women who have not married and had children. One version of this ideology has become known as “trad wife” content, where women envision ‘50s-style housewife ideals including subservience to their husbands, which has made the practice controversial.
That culture war now increasingly ensnares people who may only be even tangentially aware of it. Mazur’s content isn’t political. She hosts a podcast about dating and relationships called “Pretty Much Done,” which she said refers to people who are moving past the expectation that they will be married with children by age 30.
NBC News reviewed hateful comments made on X about Mazur’s appearance and her ability to have children in the future, while Mazur said she also received direct hate and threats.
“I understand that with social media you’re putting yourself out there to be judged or criticized. But I don’t believe anyone has the right to spread hate, and the way his followers spoke about me and to me was deplorable,” Mazur said in a phone interview. “It definitely gave me empathy for celebrities and influencers who put themselves out there. It painted a new light for how the internet works.”
After seeing people defend her on X, Mazur reinstalled TikTok and in a follow-up video called out Walsh’s post and the response from some of his followers.
“Some of his followers said I was going to die alone, that I should actually die and never leave my house, I should be sexually assaulted, I’m pathetic, I’m a whore, and that I was dead behind my eyes,” Mazur said in the video.
Walsh did not respond to a request for comment.
Mazur said she also received an influx of people coming to support her in the aftermath and that she hoped her content would resonate with people in similar mindsets and situations, helping them “feel less alone.”
“I wanted people to be pretty much done listening to the societal pressure and the noise and be open to creating the lives they want to live for themselves, not because someone else told them that’s how they should live their life,” Mazur said.
Growing up in a first-generation Russian Jewish household, Mazur said, she heard a lot of rhetoric about “finding a nice husband and having kids.”
But many Americans are now marrying and having children later than in previous decades. The median age at which Americans marry has continued to rise since the 1960s, from 20 for women and 22 for men to 28 for women and 30 for men, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The timeline for marriage isn’t the only thing that has been pushed back over the decades. In 2022, the median age to give birth to one’s first child in the U.S. hit 30 for the first time ever.
“Society has adopted this idea that the ideal of happiness is a traditional marriage, you should get married in your 20s, you should have kids by 30, you should buy a house,” Mazur said.
“I found myself in those safe, good-on-paper relationships, but I also found myself feeling deeply unhappy and unfulfilled because I felt like I was checking off a box to appease other people,” she added. “Throughout that process I realized, ‘That’s not the only thing that can make you fulfilled.’ I’m 29 and single and I feel fulfilled by my life and my career, by my friends and family.”